01 Mar 2006

A Comparison of Integration Programmes in the EU

Trends and Weaknesses

Sergio Carrera

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CHALLENGE Paper No. 1 / 28 pages

This paper offers an overview of integration programmes for immigrants in a selected group of EU member states. The main trends and similarities are assessed and broadly compared. As the paper argues, in the national arena there appears to be a distinct move in the direction of integration programmes with a mandatory character. Obligatory participation in such programmes is now a regular feature of both immigration and citizenship legislation, and a precondition for having access to a secure juridical status. In the first section, the paper mainly addresses the questions of: Who are the target groups and what is the scope of the integration programmes? What are the related enforcement mechanisms and sanctions? What is the link between immigration, integration and citizenship, and what effects (positive or negative) are emerging from that relationship? The second section looks at the evolving EU framework on the integration of immigrants, where a struggle is taking place in two parallel arenas. The first is over the competence to determine policy in this field – at the national versus the EU level (principle of subsidiarity). The second struggle concerns the overall approach, where substantial differences appear between the EU’s framework on integration and its Common Basic Principles for Immigrant Integration Policy (soft policy), and the actual legal acts involved (hard policy).

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